Monday I talked about the desire to regain the feeling of gaming in days gone by, but there’s one element that’s a lot harder to talk about because it’s totally intangible and totally dependent upon the individual, and that’s our own personal state of being when we are enjoying ourselves.
I guess the best way to nail it is to talk about our “feng shui of gaming”. I’m not sure that anyone aside from millionaires who have the resources to craft their own living space has the option to create their ideal entertainment area. The rest of us have to do the best we can with what we have, and with whom we have to live with.
Currently, my PC is in the finished basement. We have a side of the basement that’s just large enough for our three computer desks to fit. The PS4 is on the TV on the other side of the basement. When we bought the house, the previous owners had their computers set up in the same area, so it probably got stuck in our heads that we’d do the same. It works well as a designated space: it’s cool in the summer and can be warm in the winter, and it’s two floors away from people who might be sleeping late at night.
But there are issues. For one, it can be a bit claustrophobic. The PC area has room to move around in, but with three desks — two with hutches — and a set of shelves filled with books, there’s certainly a sense of confinement going on there. For another, there’s only one window in the basement, and it’s at the end of a hallway. Under some circumstances that’s ideal: I can make it really dark down there so that the monitor or TV is the only focused light in the room. In other circumstances, it just adds to the cave-like feeling. Then there’s the ergonomics. My couch isn’t really all that comfy for me (with chronic neck-and-back-muscle pains), and I’ve gone through dozens of computer chairs over the years trying to find one that I can sit in for a long period of time.
These things matter more than I think people realize. Maybe a lot of people get it as-close-to-right as they can by choosing the right room in their house or apartment from the start, or spend a lot of time measuring the distance from TV to couch for the optimal view, or maybe people just have limited options and brute-force their enjoyment of environment. Back when I lived in my first apartment after college, my PC had it’s own room (a spare bedroom) with a large window. After I was engaged and lived with my fiance, our one PC also lived in the spare bedroom, but had to share the room with an actual bed. In both cases, having the light from the window — and the ability to open it for some fresh air — was important. It helped me to relax when the weather was nice, and allowed me to look outside and be glad I was nice and warm inside when it wasn’t. Again, intangible elements when it comes to what we normally think of as relevant to enjoying our entertainment, but when I think about those halcyon days when I was really able to stick with one game and enjoy it, those kinds of details factor prominently into my memories and even color my current feelings about my setups. I’ve thought about maybe moving my PC to our never-used spare bedroom, even though it’s on the other side of my daughter’s room, and across the hall from my own bedroom. That would limit many options like audio and “everyone gather ’round the PC to watch a cool video” that happens when friends come over, but would provide a different mental state for me during the lion’s share of time I’m on the computer.
I wonder how much of an effect our environmental choices have on our enjoyment of what we do. We may not think of it, may not have previous set-ups to compare it to, or maybe one set-up is just as good as another as far as most people are concerned, but since we’re products of our environment, shouldn’t we put some thought into the environments that we inhabit and how they affect our experiences?